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The Final Word by Jim Thompson
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The forest products industry continues to misunderstand public relations. Whether one agrees with Al Gore or not, whether one believes there is global warming caused by humankind or not, many, many companies outside our industry are jumping on the bandwagon these days. Being green is very, very cool.

Yet, as an industry, we continue to be passive and almost embarrassed by our own presence on this planet. We have certainly moved away from the bumper sticker of the early 1990s: “Earth First—we’ll log the other planets later.” But we have not become proactive. Folks, we were planting trees when land was being cleared wholesale for agriculture and commerce (activities that continue to this day). Does anyone not inside the industry know this?

How much carbon dioxide have we sequestered in the last 100-150 years in the trees we have planted? Do people understand that every tree made into a solid or engineered wood product continues to sequester the carbon previously absorbed (as opposed to burning, which releases it again)? Does anyone care that the paper that does not get recycled but that gets landfilled also sequesters carbon, so it is a win for Mother Nature whether recycled or landfilled?

Our companies put out slick brochures on their environmental efforts, but I suspect they are not widely read. In fact, sometimes it seems they provoke just the opposite of their intended use, for they provide detailed information for our activist enemies to use against us. As an industry, our public relations effort has been reactive, too little, too late. It is time to change this, time to get out in the open and make a big noise about our successes. Our future as a successful, higher margin industry depends on it.


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